West Devon Borough Council and South Hams District Council have agreed to axe the automatic free pest control across the two districts and replace it with a service that was only free to those in receipt of benefits.
Okehampton Today reported that previously, the contract provided free pest control treatment for rats and mice for domestic premises, but when a procurement exercise to renew it was undertaken, the tender prices received were far in excess of the previous contract price and the budget that the councils have available.
Ian Luscombe, head of environmental health and licensing, in his report, said: “The council has a duty to keep its land free from rats and mice and owners of land have similar responsibilities.
“The removal of free treatments for some residents may result in the number of rat and mouse infestations increasing and a general increase in the rodent population, complaints regarding rodent infestations may increase and environmental health officers will be required to inspect premises and take action to resolve problems.”
The West Devon hub committee unanimously voted in favour of the recommendation to cease the free service for everyone but retain it for those who are on benefits.
South Hams’ executive also backed the move, but with Cllr Keith Baldry voted against it, saying: “I have a concern that there will be people not on benefits who cannot afford for to pay for the rat catcher to come out, so will there be infestations that occur.”